Introducing the accusative/partitive distinction of the Finnish object in course books for foreigners
The distinction between the accusative and partitive case of the Finnish object is
often considered as one of the most difficult parts of Finnish gramrnar. In my
paper 1 provide an answer to the question why it is so difficult for non-native
speakers to cope with this distinction.
1 argue that the accusative/partitive distinction of the Finnish object encodes
the aspect of the c1ause. 1 also interpret the Transitivity Hypothesis of Hopper
and Thompson (see Hopper, Paul J. & Thompson, Sandra A. 1980: Transitivity
in gramrnar and discourse, Language 56. 251-299), in which they c1aim that
Transitivity and aspect are deterrnined by their discourse function: high
Transitivity and perfective aspect is correlated with foregrounding, while low
Transitivity and imperfective aspect with backgrounding. 1 argue that the
accusative or partitive case of the Finnish object is not onlyamatter of syntax
and semantics but is also dependent on pragmatics and context.
Finally 1analyse Finnish course books focusing on their methods to teach the
accusative/partitive distinction of the Finnish object. 1 conclude that this
function of the accusative/partitive distinction (i.e. the function that accusative
refers to foregrounding and partitive to backgrounding) is usually neglected in
the practice of teaching Finnish for foreigners since the course books do not
offer narratives appropriate for illuminating it.